Stories about: Department of Ophthalmology

Double take: The special approach that corrected one child’s vision overnight

Dr. David Hunter, pictured here, corrected Eliza's crossed eye at Boston Children's Hospital
Dr. David Hunter is a pioneer in detecting and treating children’s eye conditions with a range of new and tried-and-true technologies and techniques.

“At school I was seeing double today, Mom,” said 9-year-old Eliza in May of 2015. Catherine hadn’t noticed her daughter’s eyes crossing and suspected that her fourth grader was simply tired.

A few weeks later, however, Catherine and her husband were sitting in the front row at Eliza’s chorus concert, when suddenly they both noticed their daughter’s eye was crossed. It was Eliza’s 10th birthday.

“She was fine one day, and then the next her eyes weren’t working together,” says Catherine. “It was terrifying.”

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Health Headlines: The biology of weight loss, kangaroo care, and the link between screens and nearsightedness

nearsightednessBoston Children’s Hospital’s doctors and researchers are constantly working to uncover and understand health and medical questions. Health Headlines is a twice-monthly summary of some of the most important research findings.

Top news this week includes research focused on the link between screens and nearsightedness, a revolutionary new diet theory and a study underscoring the health benefits of skin-to-skin contact for preemies.

More Computer Time May Be Causing Nearsightedness in U.S. Kids

HealthDay News reports children who spend lots of time indoors and on computers and other electronic devices may be raising their risk for nearsightedness, a panel of U.S. ophthalmology experts suggests. Boston Children’s Dr. David Hunter explains what nearsightedness is and how going outside helps your eyes see farther away.

Will The ‘Always Hungry’ Diet Revolutionize Weight Loss? A Q&A With The Author, Dr. David Ludwig

Boston Children’s Dr. David Ludwig, has developed a startling new theory that turns traditional diet advice on its head: overeating doesn’t make you fat; the process of getting fat makes you overeat. In his new book, Always Hungry? Conquer Cravings, Retrain Your Fat Cells, and Lose Weight Permanently, Ludwig lays out his premise that our 40-year embrace of calories in, calories out has actually contributed to weight gain. He recently did a Q&A interview with about his research and how he came to understand that the biology of weight loss was far more complicated than “eat less, move more.”

Post birth skin-to-skin contact reduces up to 36% of infant deaths

International Business Times reports on a study from Boston Children’s Dr. Grace Chan that finds skin-to-skin contact may reduce deaths for infants with low birth weight. Low birth weight infants are particularly vulnerable during their first month of life so the researchers encourage skin-to-skin contact, also known as kangaroo mother care (KMC), especially in developing countries where conventional treatments are not widely available.

Learn more about the Boston Children’s Department of Ophthalmology.


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Our patients’ stories: Dr. David Hunter’s unique vision saved mine

Zackery Harper is a 26-year-old registered nurse from Knoxville, Tenn. There was a time when he thought he’d spend his whole life dealing with a mysterious case of double vision that baffled every doctor who attempted to treat him. Unable to accept that no one could fix his vision, Zack devoted himself to searching the Internet for answers. It was a journey that took many late nights, ending in more than a few dead ends and eventually landed him more than 900 miles from Knoxville to Boston.

By Zackery Harper

At one point, I truly believed I’d have to live with double vision for the rest of my life. After developing strabismus at age 3, an eye condition that occurs when the eyes are not aligned properly, I had two surgeries to correct the problem. But not only were the surgeries unsuccessful, the second left me with an unexplained case of double vision. My doctors were mystified, and after multiple surgeries to realign my vision, I still saw the world very differently than most people. Eventually, my doctors told me there was nothing else they could do; I’d inevitably have to learn how to live with this visual disturbance and try to make the best of it.

I spent four years trying to come to terms with the fact that I would never have “normal” vision again, but it’s a hard fact to accept when you’re a young adult with your entire life ahead of you. I just couldn’t bring myself to give up so I kept researching my condition, hoping that there was someone out there who could help me. My search took me to David Hunter, MD, PhD, ophthalmologist-in-chief of Boston Children’s Department of Ophthalmology.

The more I read about Dr. Hunter, the more I allowed myself to believe he might be the doctor I’d been searching for. I emailed him my story, and the next day I received a response from Dr. Hunter saying he had reviewed my case and thought he could help. In a few days time, my parents and I were on a Boston-bound plane.

After my initial meeting with Dr. Hunter, I was struck by two things: his down-to-earth, friendly attitude and his confidence. Having spent years hearing, “I’m sorry there’s nothing more we can do,” Dr. Hunter’s assertion that my double vision was treatable was like a dream come true.

He explained that I had a complication of strabismus that didn’t present in the usual fashion, which is why so many other doctors had failed to recognize the underlying problem with my eyes. To correct my

Dr. Hunter and Zack after his vision was restored

sight, I would need to undergo another realignment surgery, but this time utilizing a surgical technique that left two adjustable sutures in my eyes. These adjustable sutures allow the ophthalmologist to readjust the position of my eye the day of surgery or even a few days later, but without the need for additional surgery. If my eye alignment drifted in the days after surgery, I could see Dr. Hunter who could readjust my vision manually, without having to readmit me to the hospital. (Something he did on more than one occasion.)

Because I had such a complex case of strabismus I did need two more surgeries over the next year to fully correct my double vision, but they were successful. Now, I am fully healed and working as a nurse—something I never could have continued if I still suffered from extremely distorted vision. Dr. Hunter’s ability to look at a problem differently means I no longer have to see everything that way. I have him to thank for giving me my life back.

To learn more about Dr. Hunter’s work, or to make an appointment with a member of our Ophthalmology team, visit the Department of Ophthalmology website.

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Children’s makes the Top Doc list

Boston Magazine recently released its 2011 Top Doc list, made up of the best 650 physicians in the Hub. Seeing as Boston is home to some of the greatest medical minds on the planet, the list reads like a prestigious who’s-who roster of talent; a medical dream team spanning every aspect of treatment, from surgery to research and innovation.

Broken into 57 different specialties, doctors included on the list are voted for by fellow medical professionals, meaning that the Top Docs have not only gained the respect of the public and media, but of their peers as well.

Children’s Hospital Boston is proud to announce that over 10 percent of the entire list was made up of our staff, many of whom will be familiar to Thriving readers.

David Ludwig, MD, PhD

As director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center Boston Children’s Hospital, David Ludwig, MD, PhD, is a respected leader in childhood obesity research and prevention, as well as a regular Thriving contributor and interviewee. In a recent post Ludwig explains why he supports legislation that would restrict the amount of junk food available through public assistance programs. For more blogs on Dr. Ludwig’s work, click here.


In 2004 Children’s Chief of Cardiac Surgery, Pedro del Nido, MD, was the first person to use the da Vinci surgical robot to fix a defect in a child’s heart, using child-sized tools of his own design. Read about another family whose child was also saved by Dr. del Nido’s surgical expertise and steady hands.



Mininder Kocher, MD, MPH

Mininder Kocher, MD, MPH, associate director of Children’s Division of Sports Medicine, helps many young athletes work through their sports related injuries. Most recently Dr. Kocher and one of his patients was featured on ABC World News, a segment that included a guest appearance by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.


David Hunter, MD, PhD

David Hunter, MD, PhD, Ophthalmologist-in-Chief at Children’s Hospital Boston’s Department of Ophthalmology has spent years helping young people see better. In this recent blog post, Dr. Hunter weighs in on new research that indicates that the amount of time a toddler spends outside could have a direct, positive relationship on his developing eyesight.

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